The Polish Novel

Polish W4110, 3.0 points, Fall 2003

Prof. David Goldfarb

TTh 6:10-7:25 p.m., 227 Milbank

This course will consider the evolution of the novel form in Polish literature from the Baroque memoir through the Enlightenment, Positivism, and modernism, to the experiments in Polish prose of the Twentieth Century and the post-Solidarity period. Reading knowledge of Polish desirable but not required. Papers and class discussion in English.

2 Sept.—Introduction

4 Sept.—Jan Pasek, Memoirs (read at least 1660 and 1680-88--There are multiple copies available in the library in English and Polish if you want to read more. Photocopies of the assigned readings will be provided. If you are reading in English, use the Leach translation.)

9 Sept.—Pasek

11 Sept.—Ignacy Krasicki, The Adventures of Mr. Nicholas Wisdom

16 Sept.—Krasicki

18 Sept.—Princess Maria Wirtemberska, Malwina, or The Intuitions of the Heart

23 Sept.—Wirtemberska

25 Sept.—Boleslaw Prus, The Doll (If you are reading in translation, be sure to use the new version from CEU Press).

30 Sept.—Prus

2 Oct.—Prus

7 Oct.—Prus. Undergraduates: Paper I due.

9 Oct.—Stefan Zeromski, The Faithful River

14 Oct.—Zeromski

16 Oct.—Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, Insatiability. (Be sure to use the newest translation by Louis Iribarne available from Northwestern U. Press). Undergraduates: first paper due.

21 Oct.—Witkiewicz

23 Oct.—Witkiewicz

28 Oct.—Witkiewicz

30 Oct.—Witold Gombrowicz, Trans-Atlantyk.

3-4 Nov.--Election Day holiday, no classes.

6 Nov.—Gombrowicz

11 Nov.—Gombrowicz

13 Nov.—Bruno Schulz, Cinnamon Shops (U.S. edition--The Street of Crocodiles).

18 Nov.—Schulz

20 Nov.—Marek Hlasko, The Eighth Day of the Week.

25 Nov.—Hlasko

27-30 Nov.—Thanksgiving Break, no classes

2 Dec.—Jerzy Pilch, His Current Woman

4 Dec.—Roundtable discussion of final papers. All Final Papers due.

Grades will be weighted as follows:

Undergraduate Students:

 Participation     15%
 Paper I           35%
 Paper II          50%

Graduate Students:

 Participation     15%
 Oral Presentation 25%
 Term Paper        60%


READING—The readings above are listed as they will be discussed in class and should be read in advance of the day they are covered. Most materials will be available at Labyrinth Books, and others will be available for short-term use. Be sure to use the editions assigned. If you don’t already have it, I also recommend owning a copy of Czeslaw Milosz’s A History of Polish Literature reading the relevant sections alongside each work.

If you know or are learning the Polish language, you are welcome to read in the original. Some of the works on the list should be quite accessible to students at the third-year level of language study. If you would like some advice in this regard, please see me during the office hour.

I highly recommend using books from the library to keep the books in circulation and to prevent their relocation to long-term storage. Be sure to check CLIO to find books that have been moved to storage facilities. Be aware that many reference books, such as duplicate copies of dictionaries, have been moved to long-term storage and are available for semester loan.

PAPERS—Undergraduates will write a short paper of 5-8 pages on one of the works discussed in the first half of the course up to and including Prus and a longer term paper of 10-15 pages on the evolution of Polish prose, considering at least three works covered in the course.

Graduate students will prepare a twenty-minute oral presentation to be delivered in class and a term paper of 20-30 pages covering the same topic in greater depth due at the end of the semester. Topics will be determined individually in consultation with the instructor.

Computer problems are no excuse for late assignments. Extensions will be granted for delays due to computer failure, only if you can produce a backup or printout containing at least 80% of the assignment.


This portion of your grade includes your productive oral participation in class, attendance, the extent to which your written assignments reflect that you are listening actively in class, and the improvement in your work over the course of the semester. Students enroll in the class with varying degrees of preparation. Even if you enter the class with a strong background in the subject, you must demonstrate that you are learning something from this class in order to do well in it--don’t be overconfident. If you are studying the subject for the first time, do not fear that you will forever be lagging behind the more advanced students. While effort is not the only grading criterion, hard work and progress will be rewarded!

You are strongly encouraged to discuss the assignments in office hours or in e-mail. There will be no opportunities for extra credit, but there is ample opportunity for extra preparation, if you sense that you are having particular difficulty with the material. If you would like to improve your performance on the written assignments, I will always accept drafts in advance, to be returned ungraded with comments and suggestions. Most students who turn in drafts and take the suggestions seriously learn a good deal about writing and improve their assignments by one-half to a full grade. If you would like feedback on your final paper before handing in the final draft, I will accept drafts for comment up to the class before the paper is due.


25 September 2005